Ty Rillorta / Staff Reporter

A family of killer whales were spotted returning to one of their traditional feeding grounds in B.C. for the first time in 20 years. The family of 9 were spotted at the Brighton Archipelago of British Columbia along with a new week-old baby calf.

“They just stopped using the area altogether for over two decades and now it’s a sign of hope that they’re revisiting these territories and perhaps feel safe enough going back into those waters,” said Jared Towers, a cetacean research technician, in a Canadian Press article. “It’s amazing to see them swimming past a little tiny beach in the middle of the strait,” Towers noting that the whales seemed quite healthy as he has been trailing and observing the pod since January 5.

The A5 orca pod was originally driven away from their hunting grounds because of acoustic harassment devices used by fish farmers to deter sea lions and seals. With their removal a few years ago, the orcas have finally returned to feed on the chinook salmon in those areas.

“Even though I didn’t know at the time, I watched the various resident pods come through and never come back. I was more concerned on this one, the A5 because this area seemed to belong to them in the Winter,” said Alexandra Morton on a CFAX 1070 radio interview. Morton is an independent biologist tat was researching the whales from 1984 until their leaving. Whether the whales stay in the area or leave is unclear “These are questions that will be answered over the next few years” said Morton.

With the whales returning, this could mean a resurgence in the eco-life in the northern archipelago area. Ernest Alfred, a member of the Namgis First Nation based in Alert Bay, said that this could mean the return of the salmon stocks which have been dangerously low in recent years. Morton now plans to help the research on understanding the salmon population and hopefully learn to bring a resurgence in it.